Dear Dad, (to seven-year-old you)

They say God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers. Well, let just say you are the strongest soldier. It may seem as if the whole world is against you and your soldiers. But believe it or not, there is someone just like you. Me, your daughter.

She wants to save the world but doesn’t know how yet. You, her guide, you show her how to embrace pain, heartache and the toughest of them all, love. She sees the pain in your eyes and sees through your physical flesh. To her, you are a heroic figure, happiest to be able to say, “That’s my Dad.”

It wasn’t always like this. Every relationship has its ups and downs. For a while, I didn’t have this relationship with you. During that time, I didn’t know myself.

I wanted to fit in.

Dad, well Germaine (since I am talking to younger you. Way younger since you are getting up there now.)

My advice to you is to never think about your chance of failing. Always think of your chance of succeeding.

Have a bond with your son, Chance earlier, because, for a long time, I didn’t speak. But my silence meant a lot. It meant that I wanted a way out, but couldn’t find it. I was trying to figure out everything on my own.

I didn’t know my “outlet” until 9th grade, unofficially, and 10th grade officially, with softball. I love it. For a change, I wanted to be different.

But I love you and I wish there was something I could do or say. To show you how much I appreciate you, your existence means the world to me. Without you I am nothing.

It’s something about pain that leaves you open to anything really. Like most people, I balled it up inside. Until you made it a point to understand me. You said, “It will be me, you and Chance forever.” And for a while, it wasn’t like that to me. I was split between ‘cultures’, I didn’t particularly like either of them until the moment that I was honest with myself. Since then, you have become my everything too.

Dad, I see you. You belong here with me. You help me believe that anything is possible. No one believes in me the way you do, nor understands the things I say and why I say them. With you, I don’t have to wear the mask anymore.

You are my father, but also my everything else. I would say you are my mother as well. No disrespect to my mom, but when I need you, you are there. Not to say that she wasn’t, but the things you and I can say to each other and you know exactly what I am talking about is magic or something.

To my 7 year old dad,

I love you and your future has bumps. Hella big colossal bumps. But your protector, your life will come. ME!

“If you know better, do better. Each one, teach one, come together.”

Any man can be a father, but it takes a special man to be a dad.

Love,

Jaz

*Proceeds from The Conversation Event benefit The Mobile Book Library for Homeless kids and families.

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